President Barack Obama and Mexico each took a tongue-lashing from Republican House members at a rare mid-recess Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday on the case of a U.S. Marine imprisoned for six months in Mexico on questionable charges.
Lawmakers at the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere heard from the mother of Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, who has been held in Mexico since he crossed the border in March with three guns in his vehicle. Talk-show host Montel Williams, a former Marine who has become a leading advocate for the release of the Afghanistan veteran, also testified.
"If this hearing's going to stop in 10 minutes, I think the president needs to pick up the phone in 15. Make the call. Make the call today," Williams said, his voice breaking with emotion as he urged Obama to personally call on Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to free Tahmooressi.
Salmon, who has visited with Tahmooressi twice in Mexico, has led congressional efforts on the Marine's behalf, and he and other lawmakers expressed frustration with both Mexico and with the White House.
"On my way back from visiting Andrew the first time, just as I was crossing the border back into the United States, I learned of the news that the Obama administration had negotiated with the Taliban for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Sgt Tahmooressi's circumstances are obviously very different than Sgt. Bergdahl's. But it still struck me then that Sgt. Tahmooressi had served his country with honor twice in Afghanistan, and now finds himself in a Mexican prison after getting turned around, probably in great part, due to his PTSD," Salmon said in his opening statement Wednesday.
"Clearly, President Obama couldn’t find time between negotiating with terrorists to call our ally, the Mexican president, to appeal to him on behalf of our Marine."